We all have our own fair share of something we learned at school as “facts,” but later on, we learned that it was all a flop. It’s astonishing to reflect on how certain teachings, once held as absolute truths, were debunked or revised over time.
These educational missteps highlight the ever-evolving nature of knowledge and the importance of continuous learning. As science, research, and society progress, it’s essential to challenge and update our understanding of the world around us.
Here are 20 “facts” taught in school that these people painfully discovered were wrong later on in life!
1. Saturn Has Four Rings
One person stated, “From an educational filmstrip: ‘Saturn has four beautiful rings…’ The Voyager photos of the thousands of rings had come in like a week before we watched this.”
A second person replied, “And Saturn was the only planet with rings, until we discovered that all of the gas giants had them to some degree or another.”
Another Redditor added, “A lot of the books we used to learn about outer space in elementary school were so old that the information in them was super out of date while we were reading them.”
2. Pompeii Was Buried Slowly
Somebody shared, “Pompeii was buried slowly by falling ash. They pointed out that remnants of people were found, right in the middle of doing things, but didn’t realize this contradicted the burying being slow. It’s now thought that it was buried very quickly by pyroclastic flows—superheated gas traveling over 200mph.”
Then somebody added with an interesting trivia, “Also, apparently, the bodies in the pictures of Pompeii are not the actual bodies covered in ash. I had always assumed they were. The bodies were rapidly covered, leaving sort of a mold of where the person was sitting or laying, and archeologists fill the mold with a substance and then removed the ash to reveal the cast of the body. Really interesting.”
3. Legendary Giant Squids
Somebody mentioned, “When I was a kid, the Giant Squid had never been captured or photographed, and some people talked about it like it was el chupacabra. My little brother always said he’d be the first person to get footage of one. Sadly, it has since become an ordinary animal that we know exists. RIP the Kraken.”
The second person replied, “I’ve seen the preserved corpses at the Smithsonian. It’s pretty fascinating to think no evidence existed until our lifetime.”
Finally, the third added, “That’s the crazy thing though, there was evidence but it was so speculative that it only fueled the imagination. Sperm whales had/have scars that were clearly made by the claws on squid tentacles but they were so large that they couldn’t be linked to known species, so all we knew was that these whales were tangling with something huge and tentacled. I remember being FASCINATED by that tidbit as a kid.”
4. Pluto is a Planet
“Are you intentionally trying to get my generation riled up about Pluto again? Lol,” said one.
“Right? Pretty sure it was everyone’s favorite planet as well. As if!” another Redditor replied.
“It was everyone’s favorite planet when I was in school. When I was 12, my class actually attended a lecture from the scientist that killed Pluto, and the entire audience of hundreds of 12-year-old’s booed him off the stage, lol,” added the third.
5. The Food Pyramid
Somebody stated, “Food pyramid.”
Another one replied, “Most foods aren’t even shaped that way.”
Then the third added, “Of all the facts that have since been disproven, this might be the worst. We have a generation of adults who are getting diabetes and fatty liver disease because of what these people said.”
6. The Tongue Has Different Areas for Taste
One Redditor shared, “Your tongue has different areas for tasting different tastes: sweet on the tip, sour on the sides, bitter in the back, etc. I feel like this was some elaborate prank played on my generation. But I remember seeing this in my elementary school biology textbook. I don’t even think it was disproven, like, they just stopped telling this lie. Wtf.”
Somebody replied, “From what I have read, more like a game of telephone. Study results got slightly distorted, and then changed into a graph which didn’t have meaningful numbers, which lead to an illustration, which got re-purposed. That an illustration got put into textbooks for years and years.”
Another one added jokingly, “I failed a science assignment because I could taste anything on any part of my tongue so I feel especially vindicated now.”
7. You Have to be Right-Handed
“I had a teacher in 4th grade that would force left-handed kids to write with their right hand. She said that it was the normal way to write and would benefit them later in life. (circa, 1974),” shared one.
Then somebody replied, “When I (left-handed) was learning to write, my teacher at the time tried to force me to be right-handed because she ‘won’t have the devil in the classroom.’ I was moved to a different class after my mom got involved. Ah, the south.”
“Same here, also a 4th grade teacher too. But this would’ve been around 92 or so. It was basically impossible. I did so bad in school that year and remember it more vividly than the rest of elementary school. There are some things I can do with both hands, but writing isn’t one of them,” added another sharing a similar experience.
8. You Use 10% of Your Brain
Somebody commented, “So many things. The lifetime of facts is shorter than you’d think. Among them: You use 10% of your brain (was in a textbook), model of the atom, what composes a healthy diet, various histories from how dinosaurs looked to what life was like in the Middle Ages, causes of ulcers, poor vision, acne.”
“Model of the atom?? When were you in school? I was in middle school 50 years ago. While they showed picture of the Bohr model it was still explained that this wasn’t what it actually looked like. I mean, there’s a limit to what you can teach 10-year-olds. But 30 years in college, we learned molecular orbits and better or less modern understanding. It never felt ‘wrong’ to me just simplified,” clarified by another person.
9. You Have to Go to College
One person stated, “That you’re gonna end up working a minimum wage job if you don’t go to college.”
Another person replied, “The narrative has flipped now. Now if you go to college, you’re considered as wasting money to be indoctrinated by liberal institutions and should have gone to a vocational school.”
“I dropped out of college and made more than any of my friends from back then. None of them have jobs from their degrees, and even my stepdad is still working and in a job that is unrelated to his degree. The only person I grew up with that has a job relevant to their degree is my sister, and I make twice as much as her with better benefits,” added the third.
10. Blood is Blue
“Blood is blue until exposed to oxygen,” said somebody.
“This one triggers me. I had an old lady teaching my 6th-grade science class that sent me to detention for arguing with her when she said the blood in your veins was blue but red in your arteries. To be fair, I argued with her on a lot of things she was wrong about, but this is the only one that resulted in detention. That’s the only time I can remember my dad, a chemist, actually go to the school to confront a teacher for being wrong. Incidentally, she also counted off on a test because I said sound was one of the senses. She wanted hearing. I said you sense a taste, you sense a sight, you sense a smell, and you sense a touch, so why don’t you sense a sound? That argument lasted several days, but she did give me my points back,” replied another.
11. Computer Games Are a Waste of Time
“Playing with computers is a waste of time and won’t lead to a career. Said to me by a very old, and bitter teacher. 25 years in IT and counting,” said one.
“Yeah, I still remember my sister’s boyfriend being like, ‘Why do you spend all your time on the computer, that’ll never go anywhere.’ ‘I can get a job from this. Why do you waste all your time on skateboards?’ ‘I can get a job skateboarding’ Narrator: He couldn’t,” replied another.
12. You Won’t Always Have a Calculator
“Little did they know that you have a supercomputer in your pocket 24/7 that you just can’t f—ing look away from,” stated somebody.
“The funny thing is that, once you get past simple algebra, you’re encouraged or required to have a calculator for many problems. It’s usually so impractical or inefficient to solve the more involved stuff by hand, that doing so is just an exercise in tedium,” replied another.
13. Brontosaurus Doesn’t Exist
One Redditor said, “Brontosaurus is back, baby! I spent my childhood loving brontosaurus, but teachers would say, ‘Brontosaurus doesn’t actually exist, it’s just an apatosaurus.’ Well, in 2015, it was demonstrated that brontosaurus does exist and is distinct from apatosaurus.”
Then somebody replied, “Oh sh–, I didn’t know that! I still thought Brontosaurus was b-llsh–!”
14. Neurons Can’t Regenerate
Somebody stated, “Neurons can never regenerate. This was from my then-one-year-old anatomy and physiology textbook, and my private, Catholic school actually took—and still takes—its science seriously; we never talked about creationism or the divine influence on our natural world, not to mention our solid AP Physics and AP Chemistry scores. It turns out that the peripheral neuron system actually can regenerate; as of now, it doesn’t seem that the central nervous system has much in the way of that capability.”
15. Only a Few Types of Virus and Bacteria
“There are only a few dozen viruses and a few hundred bacteria types. Turns out that there are millions of viruses and trillions of bacteria, said somebody.
“It’s funny to realize despite believing in the superiority of multicellular life, we’re all ultimately just a scaffolding for unicellular life to live in, on, and around. The majority of the DNA in you body isn’t yours,” added another.
16. Inflation is Caused by Wage Increase
One Reddit user stated, “I was taught in University introduction to economics that inflation was caused by… ‘people wanting a wage increase or a raise from time to time.’”
The second person replied, “Literally one of [the] political parties in my country spread that propaganda as their ideology.”
Then the third added, “In my Econ class, a student questioned why food and shelter prices were allowed to follow the rules of supply and demand, because food and shelter were things that everyone had to have. The Prof responded, ‘If a person cannot afford food and shelter, they are not entitled to food and shelter. A person who does not contribute to the economy is not entitled to its benefits.’ I’m not paraphrasing, those words were etched in my brain. I dropped that class the same day.”
17. Atoms Cannot be Split
“When my mom graduated high school in 1944, the nuns were teaching that the atom could not be split. I think the Manhattan Project was already extant at the time. Correct me if I’m wrong, I did see Oppenheimer twice,” shared somebody.
“The Manhattan Project was in full swing during 1944, but very few people knew about it. Even the vast majority of the workers at Los Alamos/Hanford/Oak Ridge only knew their specific tasks and had no idea of how it all fit together,” replied another.
18. Italy is in Africa
One person said, “My history teacher taught us Italy is in Africa.” Another person replied with a similar story, “My 8th grade teacher marked a map as wrong because I included Italy in Europe. She insisted I was wrong, even when I brought her an atlas.”
19. Good Grades Are Paramount
“That the grades you get in school are extremely important and it was implied that getting top grades will lead to high-paying jobs. There was always SO much emphasis on getting not just decent grades, but top grades. I don’t know about other fields, but in my case, I struggled getting a low paying entry-level office job when I graduated because I had zero connections. My degree from a very good school didn’t help me in the way that I thought,” somebody stated.
“I cried when I got one B in my last year of college and my average went down to 3.9 No one in ‘the real world’ has ever asked me about my GPA. People might appreciate things that I learned in classes I got an A in, sure. But no one has ever given a sh– about any grades I have ever received,” replied another.
20. “O Captain! My Captain” is About God
Somebody stated, “I was taught the poem “O’ Captain, My Captain” was about God. I’m 42 and just learned it’s about Abe Lincoln. Southern (Florida) schools are terrible for inserting religion where it doesn’t belong.”
Do you also have your fair share of debunked facts taught in your school? Which one can you relate to the most from the list? Let us know in the comments!
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